with two companies already offering satellite service, and two more promising to offer it soon, rates are lower than they've ever been. here's the lowdown on current services and rates, including prices for weekly rentals - perfect for your trek up mount ranier.

globalstar usa
in february, globalstar received permission from a bankruptcy court to continue normal operations while it restructures.
range: global, except for india, southeast asia, arctic/antarctic, and most of africa.
basic subscription: packages start at about $25 per month, with discounted minutes offered for high-usage packages. globalstar sells its products and services through resellers, and directly to the customer.
rates: $0.89 to $1.49 per minute. long distance charges when calling to or from the u.s., and roaming charges of $1.09 to $1.99 outside of home calling area, may also apply.
rental/lease: start at $65 per week, with call rates of $2 to $2.50 per minute.
equipment: qualcomm gsp 1600 tri-mode handset, $899. also a special maritime phone, car kit, aviation kit, data kit, and a solar power kit.
contact: (877) 728-7466; www.globalstarusa.com

iridium satellite llc
iridium satellite llc purchased the iridium satellite network in december 2000 after its original owners filed for bankruptcy.
range: everywhere on earth.
basic subscription: depends on the iridium service partner, but start around $20 per month, with a $60 one-time sign-up charge.
rates: $1 to $1.50 per minute. no roaming or long-distance charges.
rental/lease: start at $125 per week, plus call rates of $1.84 per minute.
equipment: motorola 9505 handset, $1,494. special products are also available for the aviation and maritime markets.
contact: (866) 947-4348; www.iridium.com